, October 21, 2021

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A Question about the Sea


  •   5 min reads
A Question about the Sea

PETE JIMENEZ, 'ISLANDS FOR SALE' Co-curated with Nilo Ilarde, Fredesvinda Almeda Consunji Gallery, 3F Ateneo Art Gallery
On view soon. The Ateneo Art Gallery is still closed to the public until further notice. For updates, follow us on social media or visit our website at ateneoartgallery.com.


"The boat as symbol for island, the fleet as archipelago."

When you reach the third floor of the Ateneo Art Gallery, you will be met with a jaw-dropping display: bows and sterns of boats jutting out from the floor. Though they are sawed halves, the impression is that they broke surface, puncturing floor from underneath, as if with the power of buoyancy, piercing cement, and now standing quietly but loudly asking about the islands in the West Philippine Sea.

"So habang kinakatay ko 'yung mga bangka, parang ganun din siguro 'yung mga isla natin. Kinakatay din, dahan-dahan. Tapos tinatayo rin, dahan-dahan."

Why is it entitled 'Islands for Sale'?

The exhibition notes, written by Pristine De Leon, explain it best:

"The vessels collected here are decommissioned rescue boats from the Philippine Navy. Closer inspection reveals that most were manufactured in the United States, others in Canada. They were donated by Americans in the ’60s and the ’70s, defining a flow from the First World to the Third.

"It is along this space conditioned by currencies and flows that the artist decides to launch his commentary on the West Philippine Sea as a contested zone. The title itself assigns the boat as symbol for island, the fleet as archipelago. The invocation of a sale targets the sphere of economic gain, where the dispute over territory is in part also a dispute over material.

"In the exhibition, both artist and viewer are agents in transaction."

'Pag tumahimik tayo, walang mangyayari sa 'tin."

Islands for Sale as a thematic expression is very timely", writes Neil Doloricon in Malaya Business Insight. "Known for his satirical approach to many of his assemblage and sculptural oeuvres out of found materials in junkyards, Pete has come up with a very timely installation in these troubled times amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the virtual sellout of our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea," he continues.

Dangerous Patintero

The question of the islands is hardly a question in the minds of the people of the claimant countries, and, at the moment, it is a vast watery limbo with superpowers playing a dangerous game of patintero.

While the assemblage of Pete Jimenez stands as a still statement, it is easy to imagine these sea craft still in motion, imperceptible, but still jutting out, a millimeter at a time, moving towards the day we can tell these other claimants and superpowers to take it outside, to take their fight out of our waters, out of the West Philippine Sea.

Discovery and selection are his implements. In his mind is the art, and he scours junkyards for the paint.

About the Artist

Pete Jimenez (born 1960) is a visual artist with a substantial body of work in the field of sculpture.  He has held 24 solo exhibitions in Manila since 2000 and participated in several group exhibitions in Manila, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

He studied at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UP Diliman) where he majored in Visual Communications.

After college, he worked as assistant artist of cartoonist, National Artist for Visual Arts, Larry Alcala.

Pete Jimenez worked in the advertising production/post production industry in RS Video as graphic artist/animation (1983-1985); Unitel Production as animation director (1986-1990); Optima Digital as animation director/digital artist (1990-1997) and became its operations manager (1997-2010) and President (2010-2020). At the age of 60, he retired from the advertising industry.

Pete Jimenez was a Regional Finalist in the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) 1998 Centennial Painting competition.

For two consecutive years (2013 & 2014), he won Second (2ND) Place in the GSIS – AAP Annual Art Competition’s SCULPTURE CATEGORY.

Pete Jimenez was shortlisted in the 2013 Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Fellowship Grant for New York City.

Jimenez was featured in several art reviews by well-known art critic Cid Reyes’ long-running art column, Gallery-Hopping (Manila Chronicle). His past solo shows were also reviewed in the Art and Lifestyle sections of the Philippine Inquirer from 2003 to 2010.  In 2011, he was featured in an article, entitled Wizardly Welder, in the January issue of World Sculpture News Magazine.

Jimenez is among the few Filipino sculptors who has consistently explored the qualities of scrap metal as a medium, transforming rusty and discarded shards from junk shops into visual puns and garage-produced gems.

He transforms hard intractable materials like iron into sculptural statements of wit and whimsy, mirth and merriment.  Through the dynamics of imaginative collage-configuration, disparate pieces of raw material, divorced from their original context, find themselves in a new reality.  This is sculptural alchemy that is as formal as it is playful, wrought in the wonder of creation.

He demonstrates his versatility by summoning totally unforeseen and unexpected results.  Jimenez judiciously mediates between the dysfunction of three-dimensional debris and their need to find meaning in their sudden, new arrangement.

Pete Jimenez lives and works in Manila, Philippines and is happily married to Lissa Bataclan and are blessed with two lovely daughters named, Frances (24) and Julia (21).


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